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Public is invited to attend UH Hilo Strategic Planning Summit, Sept. 25-26, registration now open

Summit participants will discuss the university’s past and future, dreams and actions, possibilities and specifics.

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo invites the public to a strategic planning summit to be held Sept. 25-26, 2019. The Seeds of Opportunity Strategic Planning Summit will give members of the general public a chance to share their perspectives and to co-create the future of the university. The summit will be held in the Performing Arts Hall at the Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language, 113 Nowelo Street (photo above). The event is free and advance registration is required.

The summit caps the university’s strategic pre-planning stage of collecting information to help inform a new strategic planning process. The conversations at this summit, along with those from a recent listening tour with faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members, and business partners, will help move the university forward into the planning stage.

Summit participants, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, community partners, and guest event facilitators, will discuss the university’s past and future, dreams and actions, possibilities and specifics.

For the summit schedule and to register, see Seeds of Opportunity Strategic Planning website.

For any questions, contact Strategic Planning Project Manager Kathleen Baumgardner.


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WATCH: UH Hilo Chancellor Irwin talks about her vision for the university

Bonnie Irwin’s first priority is the UH Hilo students. While improving graduation rates is one measure, she wants to create successful, productive members of the community.

Bonnie D. Irwin took the reigns of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo as chancellor on July 1, 2019, amid a traditional Hawaiian appointment ceremony that included the blowing of pū (shell), hula and an offering of special water.

“I find that spirit in Hawai‘i to be so powerful—the idea of ‘ohana, of community and that everyone is interconnected,“ Irwin says. ”It’s a great way to help students so they feel that they are nurtured. They are part of something bigger than themselves, as we all are.”

“The dedication to this place that we have all chosen to be our home is the strength of this community and, I believe, the way forward for the future of Hilo and Hawai‘i,” Irwin writes in a recent column. “I am looking forward to creating opportunities for the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo to partner with businesses, schools and community groups across the island to further improve our home and, above all, to provide the best experience for our students that we can.”

UH Hilo worked on a new strategic plan last year. Irwin says this year the university will implement that plan, asking, “How can we focus the immense goodwill and skills and ability of this campus and its community to move the institution forward?”

Bonnie Irwin outside Chancellor's Office, UH Hilo campus.
Bonnie Irwin

Her first priority is the UH Hilo students. While improving graduation rates is one measure, she wants to create successful, productive members of the community.

“We have a lot of people that I think the university could help to a greater extent than it is now, and part of being a regional comprehensive university is helping the region move forward as well,” she says.

Irwin has more than 30 years of experience in higher education, and last served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB). She sees similarities with her former students. About 40 percent of CSUMB’s students were Latino, most of whom were bilingual. At UH Hilo, there are bilingual students who speak Hawaiian at home, which she sees as an asset.

Student success leads to family success and helps the whole community to move forward. “I see [education] as a sacred mission,” Irwin says. “I love working in higher education because we get to transform students’ lives.”

UH System News

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Message from the Chancellor: Welcome to the Fall 2019 Semester!

Welina mai UH Hilo ‘ohana,

Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

It is my honor to be able to welcome you to the fall 2019 semester as your new chancellor! I have had a busy few weeks meeting staff and community members and learning as much about UH Hilo as quickly as I can, but I am not done yet. I will be conducting a listening tour over the course of the next several months to hear about your hopes and dreams for our campus and students, so that we can chart a course together.

The opening days of the fall term are my second favorite season of the academic year. (Commencement, of course, is my favorite!) Today we welcome new students to campus. The hard work of our admissions staff and others has paid off in that our entering class is larger than last year’s. Now it is up to all of us to engage these students, keep them excited about their courses and degree programs, and help them succeed. I know they are in good hands.

In my previous messages this summer and in the communications you have received from the vice chancellors, you have heard about some of the challenges that the current term may bring to us and our students. Faculty, do not hesitate to reach out to the deans for assistance in supporting our students through the challenges that they may face articulating their complex emotions and thoughts about Maunakea or any other controversial topic that may come their way. We are fortunate indeed to be working in higher education in this moment in the history of our island, our state, and our nation. At times when emotions run high and people become entrenched in positions, as educators we bring skills of listening, learning, and civil discourse to our work and our relationships with one another.

I look forward to meeting more of you in the coming weeks. Thank you for everything you do for our students and for UH Hilo.



Photo of University Classroom Building by Raiatea Arcuri.

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Chancellor prepares to welcome new students: Ti leaf lei making

Ti leaf lei making is a tradition at UH Hilo in preparation for new students arriving.

Chancellor making ti-lef lei, holding braid with her toes and weaving length of ti.
Chancellor Irwin learns to make ti leaf lei for new students arriving next week. At right is Lei Kapono, interim executive assistant to the chancellor.

Chancellor Bonnie Irwin on Instagram:

Great fun learning how to make a ti-leaf lei today. It is a wonderful UH Hilo tradition to welcome our new students, arriving next week!


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Guidance on Instructional Activities Associated With Pu‘uhuluhulu

Memo from UH Vice President for Academic Planning and Policy: The University of Hawai‘i will maintain a learning environment that encourages and accepts the free and fair exchange of ideas.

Donald Straney
Donald Straney

UH Hilo Ohana:

Donald Straney, University of Hawai‘i Vice President for Academic Planning and Policy, has provided a memorandum on Guidance on Instructional Activities Associated With Pu‘uhuluhulu.


August 7, 2019

TO: Members of the UH Faculty and Staff
FROM: Donald 0. Straney, PhD, Vice President for Academic Planning and Policy, UH System

SUBJECT: Guidance on Instructional Activities Associated With Pu‘uhuluhulu

There is a list of courses that faculty are offering for students to take remotely while staying in the Pu‘uhuluhulu region of Hawai‘i Island. The list is primarily built around already existing on-line or independent study options. However, there are also some face-to-face courses listed.

We appreciate faculty support for students who are participating in this important moment in history, and that the learning opportunities presented by the list will in many cases literally bring the course material to life. We know that faculty members who have offered their courses to students who wish to remain away from campus are doing so with respect to the policies and procedures of their campus.

We offer the following guidance to clear up any misconceptions, note current policies that may be applicable, and to make sure we are all aligned in how best to proceed.


Click here to read full Memorandum.

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